tree health

Get an Assist in Gauging Tree Health

Daniel Cooper Technology

tree health

If there was ever a time when Florida citrus growers would want to get a better read on tree health, this season might it. A significant number of acres have been treated with new trunk-injection therapies, and growers have been monitoring groves to observe the impact of the treatments.

Growers have traditionally relied on visual observation to get a sense of tree health. That’s a good method, especially for those seasoned producers who have done it for many years.

tree health

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) released a new tool last year called Canopy Assist. It can be used via smartphone to score tree health.


Tripti Vashisth, UF/IFAS associate professor of horticultural sciences, led the effort to develop the Canopy Assist program. She says that the growers who have started using the program like the concept and the fact that it provides them with more confidence in backing up their own visual observations.

“This tool can help growers in assessing tree health over time. They can use it to evaluate if their treatments are working,” she says. “We know that for HLB-affected trees, canopy is the best indicator for yield potential. Therefore, tracking tree canopy can allow the growers to effectively assess new grove-management tools that they might be applying. A grower can follow the same tree over several years and see the progression in canopy growth.”

Canopy Assist is designed to be simple to operate, and it is free to growers. The only investment required is a selfie stick to help take pictures inside the canopy of the tree.

“All we need are some photographs of the tree canopy taken from underneath the tree,” Vashisth says. “Those are uploaded to an online tool (ImageJ), and we get the answer. We have also employed AI to refine the results.”

Vashisth has utilized Canopy Assist in her own research looking at how applications of plant growth regulators affect tree health in HLB-infected trees. She says the tool has recorded improved canopy density after six months of treatment applications.

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Frank Giles


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